In A Weed by Any Other Name, one of the occasions I write about is a garden bed at Boyd Community Center, where we held a bulb planting one September in honor of Emily's 7th birthday. It sounded good on paper: we had dirt cake (the photo wasn't ours; we were too overwhelmed to take pictures), gave the kids shovels and bulbs, the party favors included flower bulbs and pretty kid-sized hand trowels, and they planted a flower bed which continues to give our family, and perhaps others who visit the community center, a great deal of happiness each spring.
But in reality, the party was hot, and the ground was hard, and the kids' interest level in the featured activity was slim to none. I ended up digging most of the holes, the kids whined about "how many more do I have to plant?", and I ended up replanting a number of bulbs which didn't quite make it underground.
The more long run problem is that since then, the bed had become infested with Canada thistle and wild garlic. (both infestations are discussed in the book, so I won't repeat the descriptions here) I have tried to interest the girls in helping me maintain the beds, but they have expressed Zero Interest. I figured that was my fault, for being too pushy.
But yesterday evening I was at Boyd for another event, and the director told me a story that made me think better of all these memories. At their afterschool program, the children are putting in a vegetable garden (which they will continue to maintain with their summer camp program). The director had come in to explain which couple of weeds the children should pull, and first, Emily breaks in to say Shouldn't they pull the wild onion too? And then Hazel breaks in to say We'll need gloves to pull the thistle, because it has prickers. A little while later, Hazel beckons the director over, and shows her the long root she got from a thistle plant she pulled, and they marvelled together at it.
I looked at the bed, after hearing this story. There are still patches, and it is still infested. But Hazel wasn't kidding when she told me that she pulled a lot of thistle yesterday. And apparently they don't mind weeding, as long as it is in good company, and they can be the resident experts, instead of mom.